Posted by psgels on 21 August 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Here’s another one I haven’t heard anyone talk about, or even mention for that matter. Kaze no Youjinbou is an obscure series that aired back in 2001, but seems to have become nearly forgotten over the past eight years, which is a bloody shame because it’s a really good series. Recommended for anyone who’s into a good mystery series.

This series is about criminal gangs in a small mining town, and the street-punks, corrupt politicians, villagers and police officers around them. Street-punks and yakuza in anime are very often incredibly stereotypical. They’re either a bunch of screaming and evil paper bags who appear just out of random and attack the lead characters in order to insert some random tension, or they’re portrayed as those cheesy thugs with a heart of gold and a strong sense of bushido. Kaze no Youjinbou however portrays them as ordinary people: not pure evil, but it also doesn’t try to glorify their greed, the crimes they commit and their twisted outlook on life. It tries to look into what drives these people to start horrible turf wars that involve entire towns. And I must say that they succeed in this very well.

But at heart, this series is a mystery-series, based on a classic film by Akira Kurosawa. The thing I liked best about this series is how it really takes its time to let the story introduce itself instead of rushing through the beginning: you won’t have any idea what this series is going to be about in the beginning, because it’s very carefully introducing every major character, while showing a very detailed portrayal of how they live their lives. You’ll never know when something is just meant to flesh out the characters or develop the plot the moment it happens and despite the very slow pacing, there’s always something small going on.

This series has really done well in making its setting come alive in the first half. When the lead character runs into someone, it feels like this someone was there because he’s part of the setting, rather than for the sake of the plot. Even when characters are out of the screen, you can feel tat they’re all carrying out their own agendas, instead of waiting for the camera to focus back on them. Unfortunately, this effect disappears in the second half, which becomes more like a straight-forward gang war and this show loses a bit of its subtlety. It’s because of this that in my opinion, the second half is less impressive than the first half: it’s another one of those mystery-series that’s better at asking questions, rather than answering them, but it nevertheless keeps your attention until the end, which does wrap up everything nicely.

The animation in this series ranges from really bad to really good. This means that there are some action scenes that are a bit hard to take seriously due to the incredibly cheap visuals (a certain scene of a car driving down a road stands out in particular), but in exchange for that there are plenty of scenes that have absolutely amazing visuals. The colour-palette is full of washed out and grayish colours that give this series a very cold atmosphere, but the direction is what really gives this series its own unique visual identity. There are lots of very creative camera angles, gorgeous shots and poses, awesome shading and some of the animated scenes are full of life and detail that make a huge impact when they need to. Especially episode 13 stands out in these downright awesome visuals.

It’s a shame, really. Today, I pretty much consider Studio Pierrot as the single worst of the big animation companies out there. However, before they found their cash cows of Naruto and Bleach, they were a really good production company, with their own visual style and quite a few excellent titles on their names. Ever since Victorian Romance Emma ended however, they seemed to have completely given up on trying to do anything creative with their talents, and that’s such an incredible shame. Series like Kaze no Youjinbou, Great Teacher Onizuka, Fancy Lala and Emma definitely show that they’ve got the ability to do much more than what they’re doing right now.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10

3 Responses

  1. Denizen says:

    I agree Studio Pierrot are pretty crappy, though it does seem they’re trying more new series. Personally i’m looking forward to seeing how “Letter Bee” turns out in Fall, as it’s shounen manga but it’s not the merchandise-whores of Blue Dragon or the upcoming Yumeiro Patissiere respectively.

    They CAN make good stuff, what they can’t do is effectively bring that out regularly or cohesively.

  2. Scamp says:

    People seem too ready to bash Pierrot for Naruto and Bleach, fogetting they can make some really good anime when they feel like it. Plus Narubleach brought them a load of money so they should have plenty of resources to create some new quality series.

    I’m personally looking forward to Letter Bee. They brought out a pilot episode a while back and it was excellent. You should check out that one episode psgels

  3. Evirus says:

    I kind of gave up pimping Kaze no Yojimbo at every opportunity because I couldn’t convince anyone to watch it. The wait between the episode Soldats left off at to the release of the final Bandai DVD was quite long, but well worth it.

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  • SuperMario
    (Sunday, May 29. 2016 10:38 PM)
    @Bam: I just glanced over the lightning in a Bottle 2016 and it’s quite impressive. Grimes, Chet Faker, Hundred Waters, Jamie xx? Yay. Yoga & meditation class? Count me in!!
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, May 29. 2016 09:40 PM)
    @afgm, positive. DS2 relies too much on mobbing your character and the bosses are terribly unimaginative. DS3 has faster combat that DS1 but I still think DS1 one bosses are better and DS3 had less interesting level design than DS1. Plus DS3 also focuses a bit too much on Mobbing and referencing DS1 instead of making it’s own lore.
  • afgm
    (Sunday, May 29. 2016 07:49 PM)
    @Aidan are you sure you aren’t looking back on DS1 with rose-tinted glasses?
  • Wicked
    (Sunday, May 29. 2016 05:39 PM)
    Other wise I’d have recommended Life and Limit by Keiko Suenobu or maybe something like Mars. Although I don’t think Mars ages very well
  • Wicked
    (Sunday, May 29. 2016 05:33 PM)
    @kaiser Shoujo don’t tend to be as twilight zone-y as Partner, plus it’s only 3 volumes. There are shoujo that deals with heavy subject matters like bullying or forbidden love, but i don’t know if that’s what the person is asking for
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, May 29. 2016 03:27 PM)
    @Wicked: That was a decent enough manga, that Partner series, I like a good dark shojo and it was well enough in that regard within what its genre/demographic could get away with and its story fit comfortably its three volume run.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, May 29. 2016 03:14 PM)
    @K-Off, DSII was a disappointment somewhat salvaged by the DLC. DSIII is much better but still doesn’t top DSI.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 29. 2016 03:05 PM)
    @K-off: sorry I’m actually in your (former) neck of the woods about 50 miles north of Orange, working at a music festival called lightning in a Bottle. You’ll love Dark Souls III if you’re patient enough. So much of it is a direct homage/copy of the original that it feels like a shelved fanfic at times, but there is polish and some ingenuity behind some of the deeper nuances of the game.
  • K-Off
    (Sunday, May 29. 2016 06:24 AM)
    @Bam Finally going to start DSIII this monday, I’ll have to see what’s so special about this one since I wasn’t the biggest fan of DSII.
  • K-Off
    (Sunday, May 29. 2016 06:17 AM)
    Pretty pleased with my Vita so far, finished Danganronpa 2 and completed 100% of Ray Gigant this week. June looks like a pretty good month for the Vita, currently deciding whether or not I should purchase Odin Sphere or Grand Kingdom when they release. Of course I really should repair my WiiU gamepad before Mirage Sessions comes out.

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